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Charlie Crist comes to Jacksonville to tout housing solutions

Democratic governor candidate Charlie Crist speaks Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, in Jacksonville.
Will Brown
Jacksonville Today
Democratic governor candidate Charlie Crist speaks Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, in Jacksonville.

Charlie Crist, the Democratic nominee for governor, was in Northeast Florida on Wednesday, talking about housing affordability and property insurance rates, which he calls a crisis in Florida.

He wants to restore the state's Sadowsky trust fund, which was created to fund affordable housing programs. The state started diverting money from the fund for other purposes during the housing boom in the early 2000s.

"And so you don't have those hundreds of millions of dollars that ordinarily used to help Floridians purchase a home or rent an apartment," Crist said during an appearance on First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross. "I had an apartment as a congressman in Washington. I had another apartment in St. Petersburg where my district was. And the one that was more expensive? The one in Florida. I mean, it's remarkable."

On other issues:

Parental rights: Asked about a new law restricting discussion of sexuality and gender identify in schools, Crist said: "It used to be the Republicans were the party of less government, more freedom. Under [Gov. Ron] DeSantis, it's less freedom and more government. It is exactly the opposite. And it's dead wrong." Schools should focus on good quality education, he said, and pay teachers more. Florida is the third-largest state in the nation and ranks 48th in teacher pay, Crist said.

Abortion: Crist is embarking on a statewide “Choice is Choice” tour, fighting for a woman’s right to choose abortion. He criticized a new state law that prohibits abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. “The governor ... signed a 15-week law and shockingly has NO exception for rape or incest," Crist said. "And I believe that’s just barbaric. It is disrespectful of women and their right to choose.  If you want to have a choice as a woman in your reproductive rights, Charlie Crist is your candidate.  If you don’t, then it’s Ron DeSantis.” Crist said he thinks the right to choose will be eliminated entirely in Florida next year.

Climate change: It's real, Crist said. We need to reduce carbon emissions responsibly and contain rising sea levels, he said.

Property insurance: The governor and Legislature have failed to solve the problem because they act with partisan motives — in the interest of insurance companies that contribute to them, Crist said. "This is a nonpartisan issue," he said. "Consumers are consumers. They're not Republicans, Independents or Democrats. They're consumers of property insurance." Crist said insurance companies do not contribute to his campaign because he would hold their profits in check. "Why would they give me money? I'm telling you what I'm going to do to them. And what I'm going to do is allow them to make a profit, but not exorbitant profits. That's outrageous. And people suffer."

COVID-19: Florida has been irresponsible about managing the epidemic, Crist said. It is possible for businesses to remain open while protecting people from COVID; those goals are not mutually exclusive, he said. "For the last three months now, Florida has had more deaths from COVID than any state in America. That's where we are," Crist said. "And the surgeon general, I think it's been a disaster — not advocating vaccines, not advocating wearing masks indoors at the height of the pandemic. That's irresponsible."

Political parties: Crist has been criticized for switching from the Republican Party to the Democratic. "Here's the truthfulness," he said. "I think we're going to get significant votes from moderate Republicans. I mean, not a day goes by that somebody doesn't come up to me, whether I'm in Orlando or Jacksonville or what have you, and says, 'I'm a Republican, and I'm gonna vote for you, because I've seen how this governor has treated our kids.' And the fact that we're banning books in our school system now. Not giving women the right to choose. I mean, issue after issue after issue."

Michelle Corum joined WJCT as "Morning Edition" host in 2012 and has worked in public broadcasting as an announcer and reporter for public radio stations in Lawrence, Kansas, and Interlochen, Michigan. She also manages WJCT's Radio Reading Service for sight-impaired listeners.